Previously, “C.O.W.L. #4”
C.O.W.L., the terrific title from Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, Rod Reis, and Image Comics, has spent its first four issues establishing its world of corruption and fleshing out its characters of questionable repute in a way that lets you know exactly where they are and why they are. That’s why–with the events of issue #5, its first arc finale–you understand why absolutely everything within the world of C.O.W.L. must change.
This issue begins with the aftermath of a picket line that has turned deadly, but the only casualty of this event is C.O.W.L.‘s political power. Public perception has changed, and all of C.O.W.L.‘s friends are abandoning the organization’s side. I love this because, not only do we know this is how the real world works, but also because the first arc has shown us the thin ice C.O.W.L. has been treading on this whole time. What support they’ve had up to this point was hanging by a thread, anyway, because nobody thinks C.O.W.L. is even needed anymore.
Of course, the writing continues to seamlessly mesh real-world situations (like labor organizing) with superhuman, fantasy world consequences. If we thought union strikes and riots were bad with baseball bats and crowbars, just imagine what fresh hell would be unleashed with the addition of optic blasts or radiation beams. Beyond that, however, C.O.W.L. has constructed a serious story exploring the desire to be needed and what it means to work yourself out of a job; out of a life.
Putting that story together with Rod Reis’ artwork was a stroke of genius. Reis is clearly a talented artist, without question, but what makes this so good is how well he adjusts his artwork to fit the story. When we’re in an office, seeing a meeting take place, everything is bland; the suits blend in with the walls, and the only thing with meaning are the characters’ faces, and you feel the same way as when you’re in a real office during a real meeting. When we’re in a dark street, shadows and light take precedence. Then, when the action hits, the world loses structure; the panels fall away, and we’re left with moments of chaos. It’s disorienting in all the right ways. There’s a sequence near the end of this issue between Tom and John, and it’s beautiful; for all of the aforementioned reasons. I can’t say enough about how wonderful Rod Reis’ artwork is on this series.
Now that the first arc is complete; after the characters of Geoffrey Warner, Tom Haydn, and John Pierce have experienced change of irrevocable measure, the series is really just getting started. The events on C.O.W.L.‘s horizon can only get bigger in stakes, wider in scope, and deeper in intrigue. I hope you’ll join me as I continue to experience this series, but even if you’re not, I’m still going to suit up and hit those streets every single night… or month… and by “hit those streets”, I mean “read those pages”. After all, it’s all I know how to do.